I have often thought about how technologies like Watson from IBM might change how companies operate. Watson is a thinking computer that goes far beyond what we can do with most computers today.
Take cancer research as an example. Watson is advising cancer specialists in hospitals all over the world. There is so much new cancer-related research and literature being published at present that a doctor would need to spend 160 hours a week just reading papers to stay on top – and that’s accelerating. There are only 168 hours in a week anyway, so doctors might struggle to sleep, eat, and spend time with any patients – let alone their family.
But Watson doesn’t need to sleep. It just scoops up all this new knowledge so that a cancer patient talking to a doctor can feel confident not just that they have a great doctor, but that they are supported by a tool that knows everything there is to know. Every research paper ever published can be processed and analysed to ensure that patients get the benefit of the latest knowledge.
Imagine if your customer service team was supported by a tool like Watson? A computer that captures every detail of your products, every discussion about them, every article written or online discussion, and therefore knows the solution to every possible problem or question a customer might have.
Some commentators believe that this is the end of the contact centre. Once the tools like Watson are available with speech recognition, then who needs to talk to a human? But I tend to believe the view of CX expert Shep Hyken, who recently wrote:
“Some may think that Watson would eventually be able to replace a call center rep. No doubt that Watson can deliver a better self-service solution. But, what if rather than replacing the employee, it supported the employee. This would allow for the company to keep the human touch with its customers, but also provide quick and accurate support. This, according to Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, is when AI, or artificial intelligence, takes on a new meaning. This is when AI becomes augmented intelligence.”
I think this idea of Augmented Intelligence is going to be very important in the customer service business in the next few years. How can brands improve their service by offering assistive technology to their agents, but also maintain the human touch?
What do you think about the rise of AI and the potential impact of customer service? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.